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Having health insurance as a college student


Health insurance can be a major issue for some college students.

By Megan Brandrup

“You need to have health insurance because you never know when you’ll need it,” said David Damm, professor of Communications at Waldorf College. “Anyone can have an accident that could add up to thousands of dollars in bills.”

Health insurance has become a hot topic in the United States since the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short. The Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010, and upheld by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012.

The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as many people call it, requires that all American citizens have health insurance coverage. According to, “The annual fee for not having insurance in 2015 is $325 per adult and $162.50 per child (up to $975 for a family), or it’s 2 percent of your household income above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status – whichever is greater.”

As a college student, how does this apply to your life? You may wonder, “Do I need health insurance? What exactly do I need to buy? What does health insurance even do?”

In an email interview with Bev Retland, the student insurance coordinator for Waldorf College, she answered a great deal of questions that college students face.

Megan Brandrup: What is health insurance exactly?

Bev Retland: “Health insurance is protection against financial loss from illness or bodily injury.   Health insurance provides coverage for medicine, visits to the doctor or emergency room, hospital stays and other medical expenses. Policies differ in what they cover, the size of the deductible and/or co-payment, limits of coverage and the options for treatment available to the policyholder.   Health insurance can be directly purchased by an individual, or it may be provided through an employer in a group plan.”

MB: Why do college kids or anyone else need health insurance?

BR: “With the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) everyone is required to carry health insurance or be financial penalized.”

MB: How do I get health insurance?

BV: “You can purchase an individual plan, join a group plan with your employer upon your hire date or when they have open enrollment, or you can check with your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace.  (Beware not all insurances are adequate coverage to meet Waldorf’s health insurance requirement.)”

MB: How long can I stay on my parent’s health insurance?

BR: “Children can be covered by their parents’ health insurance coverage up to the age of 26 regardless of the child’s marital status, financial dependency, enrollment in school, or place of residence.”

MB: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

BR: “Understanding your own health insurance and what is available is essential in today’s world.  When young graduates are hired for their first job, they will be asked which plan they want to participate in with the company’s group plans.  If they do not understand what they are purchasing they may be over or underinsuring themselves and their families. I wish I could teach a session for all young graduates to learn the basics of health insurance.   I encourage anyone with questions to talk to their current agency personnel or to stop by my office and I can help them find the answers to their questions.”

Having health insurance is not only a requirement for living on the Waldorf College campus but a smart move in preparing for the future and any unfortunate events that may occur.